Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Seattle.
So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?
Today, we’ll use science and data to determine which Seattle ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Seattle area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to Seattle proper, although Sammamish certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of Seattle are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…
We examined the 53 biggest suburbs of Seattle to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in Washington lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Seattle in terms of quality of life.
Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Seattle for 2019:
- Tukwila (Photos)
- Bremerton (Photos)
- Algona (Photos)
- Fife (Photos)
- SeaTac (Photos)
- Everett (Photos)
- Tacoma (Photos)
- Auburn (Photos)
- Pacific (Photos)
- Sumner (Photos)
Read on to see how we determined the places around Seattle that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around Seattle too.
Editor’s Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it’s because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.
For more Washington reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Washington
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Washington
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Washington
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Seattle for 2019
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2013-2017, this is the criteria we used:
- High unemployment rate
- Low median household incomes
- Low population density (no things to do)
- Low home values
- A lot of high school drop outs
- High poverty
- High rate of uninsured families
FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Seattle.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 3,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 53 suburbs to evaluate around Seattle.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 53 in each category, where 1 was the “worst”.
Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.
And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the “Worst Suburb near Seattle.” We’re lookin’ at you, Tukwila.
Read on below to learn more about what it’s like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.
We’ll get the ball rolling with Tukwila, the absolute worst place to live around Seattle according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Tukwila beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 3rd worst in the Seattle area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 9th worst when it comes to home values.
But hey, at least it’s cheap to live there. But there’s a reason for that… it’s Tukwila.
You won’t feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren’t a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.
Welcome to Bremerton. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 17.9 miles to Seattle. Income levels here are the 1st lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $48,757 a year, which doesn’t go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.
But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Seattle suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Algona on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that’s an understatement.
In terms of numbers, it’s in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other Seattle suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
If you live in Fife, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 8th lowest Seattle suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 9th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Seattle. Remember, we looked at 53 cities for this study.
Fife is about 26.8 miles to downtown.
SeaTac has the distinction of being a Seattle suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, SeaTac has the 10th lowest home values in the metro Seattle area, where the median price is $264,500. To put that into perspective, in Sammamish, the median income is $205,500, which is the best in the area.
SeaTac has an unemployment rate of 5.5% which ranks 25th worst.
Everett has 107,560 residents that probably know it’s a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you’ve ever been there, you don’t need to look at the data.)
Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 16.3%.
Ah, Tacoma. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Seattle.
It’s the place with the 9th most out of work residents in the Seattle metro area (6.7%).
Auburn is a city about 22.8 miles from Seattle, but Seattle probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.
You’d be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Auburn has the 14th most uninsured people, 17th worst incomes, and has the 13th highest unemployment rate (6.4%) in the entire Seattle metro area.
Homes only cost $259,600 for a reason. That’s cheap for Seattle standards.
If you absolutely have to live near Seattle, then Pacific might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Seattle suburb.
About 6.1% of residents are out of work.
Rounding out the ten worst Seattle suburbs to call home is Sumner.
Located 27.7 miles outside the city, Sumners is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 27th highest unemployment rate (5.4%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Seattle where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2019
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Seattle with Tukwila casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Seattle aren’t all bad. Sammamish takes the cake as the best place to live around Seattle.
- Mercer Island
For more Washington reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Washington
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Washington
- 10 Safest Places In Washington
- 10 Worst Places To Live In Washington
Detailed List Of The Worst Seattle Suburbs
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